Mature leaves of a transgenic tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum L. var. Samsun, line A41-10) that constitutively express a yeast-derived acid invertase gene develop symptoms which are characterized by the presence of greenish-yellow and green sectors in the same leaf, and onset of early leaf senescence. Previous studies indicated that invertase activity was two- to threefold higher in the greenish-yellow sectors than in the green sectors. Our structural analyses revealed that development of secondary plasmodesmata, via modification of existing primary plasmodesmata, between mesophyll cells was inhibited severely in the greenish-yellow sectors, but only marginally in the green sectors. In contrast, the structure and function of primary plasmodesmata in the same symptomatic sectors remained unaltered as determined by structural and dye coupling studies. It is hypothesized that secondary plasmodesmata differ from primary plasmodesmata in having special abilities to traffic information molecules to coordinate leaf development and physiological function(s). Arrest of secondary plasmodesmal development by high invertase activity in the transgenic tobacco leaf may have prevented this type of trafficking and hence resulted in early leaf senescence. The results also indicate that the yeast acid invertase-expressing tobacco may provide an effective experimental system for the molecular characterization of cellular mechanisms that regulate the development, function, and possible turnover of secondary plasmodesmata.